Asparagus is a perennial crop that is easy to grow and will continue to produce for up to 20 years! You can purchase year-old “crowns” from most nurseries. Asparagus plants can also be grown from seeds, but it can be rather difficult, so buying some “yearlings” is much easier. With very little maintenance, you can have a bed of asparagus producing in 2 to 3 years, then every year after that. It’s an amazing crop! The best thing is, you can make your asparagus plot as small or as large as you want. Here are some tips on growing asparagus.
Plant asparagus in the early spring when it is still cool out, but the soil can be worked. They prefer a bed with good drainage that is made up of 2 to 4 inches of manure, compost, and soil. Dig a long trench that is about 6 inches wide and six inches deep with a mound of dirt down the middle of it.
Each crown should have a good set of roots on it. Spread these roots out over the mound of dirt inside the trench, while spacing crowns 15 to 18 inches apart from one another. Cover the roots and crowns with a couple of inches of dirt. Make sure to water them well, but don’t let them set in water. They don’t do well in overly moist conditions.
Water regularly and add mulch when needed. During the first and second year, spears shouldn’t be harvested. In the fall, cut down any foliage that is dead and add some compost for the winter. Asparagus plants are very low maintenance! Be on the lookout for pests that find asparagus to be tasty: slugs, cutworms and asparagus beetles. Crown rot and rust can also be a problem and can ruin your entire crop if not taken care of quickly.
Tips for Harvesting Asparagus
Although you can do some light harvesting during the 2nd year, it’s best to wait until the 3rd year to begin harvesting your asparagus spears. When spears rich the thickness of a pencil, you may begin harvesting them by cutting them at an angle when they reach 6 inches. When the year’s crop is over, allow the ferns to grow until they die off in the fall. These ferns are what provide nutrients for plants the following year.
Uncooked asparagus spears can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Place the spears upright in a glass with an inch of water in it. Loosely drape a plastic bag over the top of the spears and the glass of water. Asparagus freezes well also, but you need to blanch it first. Sort spears out according to thickness, since this determines the amount of time needed for blanching (tossing them into boiling water for a specific amount of time.
Small spears take a 2 minute bath in boiling water, medium spears 3 minutes, and large ones need 4 minutes. You can blanch whole spears or pieces, however you are going to freeze them. Blot the spears or pieces dry before putting them in a plastic baggie and freezing them. Getting them into the freezer as quick as possible will prevent the spears from becoming mushy.
Yummy Asparagus Recipes
In just 30 minutes, you can have a delicious salad that not only has some of your lovely asparagus spears, but also fresh peas, shallots, and almonds!
Asparagus & Swiss Cheese Souffle – Epicurious
I always thought souffles were complicated creations that took hours upon hours to make. Here is an easy-to-follow recipe that takes hardly any time at all!
What type of asparagus are you thinking of planting; white, green, or purple?